Polyester vs Cotton: The pros and cons

Polyester vs Cotton: The pros and cons - British Made Gifts

As a manufacturer of custom printed fabrics and personalised products who solely use polyester based fabrics, we often get asked if we print on cotton. There is usually a misconception with polyester because it’s synthetic, so we thought we’d give you an insight to the pros and cons of both polyester and cotton.

You may think that the lower cost of polyester means a lower quality product, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Polyester is great for some projects, while cotton is great for others.

Cons of Cotton:

Cotton will wrinkle and loose shape, making it a worse option for certain clothing items like suits, it also absorbs perspiration and retains it, so it’s not comfortable for strenuous sports that make you sweat. This results in the fabric taking a long time to dry and contributes to the material sagging and loosing structure. The previous factors also conclude in cotton fabric generally shrinking.

Although cotton is easy to dye and initially looks fantastic when printed, when exposed to sunlight and over time it will fade in colour.

Cotton is the more expensive of the two.

Pros of Cotton:

The fibres in cotton are usually less abrasive than polyester, so it feels soft on your skin and is generally better for more sensitive people. That being said, some cotton fabric is designed to be strong and rough, like heavy duty cotton canvas and a lot of polyester materials have now been developed to feel very similar to cotton.

Cotton is typically more breathable that polyester, the natural fibres lets your skin breathe.

Naturally, cotton is more environmentally friendly due to it being a sustainable substance that grows on plants and it is biodegradable.

Cons of Polyester:

Polyester isn’t as breathable as cotton, as it isn’t a natural substance. Being a fibre produced from oil, polyester is usually water repellent. Although, there are now many performance wear polyester products specifically engineered to wick sweat away from your body.

Once polyester is stained, which happens to the best of us. It is very difficult to then remove that stain.

The biggest turn off for consumers is that polyester isn’t biodegradable and is man made ultimately isn’t environmentally friendly.

Pros of Polyester:

Polyester is strong, flexible and durable. It’s very resilient and can withstand a good deal of wear and tear. Once it is heat set and printed the colour is vibrant and looks really effective, the fabric should look like that for years to come and won’t be damaged by washing or sun light.

Unlike cotton, polyester will dry very quickly and will resist wrinkles and shrinkage making it the more convenient of the two.

Polyester is extremely diverse and is a contributing composite to a huge range of fabrics, it’s versatility gives consumers a large choice of fabrics for different projects.

Polyester is less expensive.

The environment debate

It cannot be denied that Polyester is initially less environmentally friendly as it is an oil based fabric, although it can be made using recycled plastics. Cotton is sustainable due to it being a natural substance. Either way the product life cycle of both materials come out as equal. Both fabrics are created in power sucking factories and endure numerous chemical treatments before being shipped around the globe.

It’s also useful to remember (before hating on Polyseter) that Cotton farming uses the most pesticides of any crop in the world, so the debate really is endless.

If you’d like to know more about our fabrics, please feel free to contact us or order one of our sample packs to make the most informed decision.

Happy shopping, sewing, crafting and making!